F1 Forensics: Mercedes W04 Technical Analysis

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And now over to Somers…

Mercedes W04 Launch – Technical Analysis

Following on from the debacle Mercedes made of a pre-launch on Saturday the team have unveiled their 2013 challenger at Jerez this morning.

As we expected from first glance their isn’t anything revolutionary on the car and just like many of the other teams the car represents a step forward from it’s predecessor.

Above: Mercedes W04 – Front Wing & Nose

Above: Front Wing & Nose of the W03 at Interlagos in Brazil

At the front of the car the Front Wing carries over from the W03 which I’d assume like the other teams is simply a placeholder and we will see an evolution over the next few days/tests. The Front Wing Pylons are also a direct carry over from it’s predecessor and are likely to remain unless the team decide to re-design their nose. In terms of the nose the team have opted to use a vanity panel in order to smooth out the central portion of the nosecone but the outer ridges and general flattened approach at the tip remain, giving the impression of a semi step nose.  Underneath the nose the L Shaped turning vanes remain (at least for now)

The team continue to utilize push rod suspension at the front of the car but have amended the position of the FOM cameras to a more forward position which alter the airflow presented to the suspension and control arm members.

Above: The W04 Sidepod Configuration

Above: The W03’s Sidepod Configuration

As we can see in the comparison images above some amendments have been made to the Sidepods and associated aero in order to fully extract performance from the Semi-Coanda setup. The Inlet has been re-sculpted and raised in order to further allow the airflow passage through the undercut, whilst on top of the Sidepod we find an additional Vortex Generator.  In front of this the team used a singular cockpit fin underneath the mirror mount in the latter part of 2012 whilst now they have opted to place 3 fins each with increasing magnitude as they tail backward.  These fins help to vorticise the airflow that travels over the Sidepod reducing the boundary layer (Boundary Layer increases with distance).

The Vertical Sidepod Airflow Conditioner that’s mounted outbound of the Sidepod on the edge of the floor has also been amended to cater for the re-shaping of the Inlet and Undercut.

As we can see in the rearward facing shot above the Sidepods top edge utilises a long downwash ramp to the exhaust channel.  The 3 slots to the side of the exhaust channel are used for exiting radiator airflow and will aid in the manipulation of the exhausts intended target.

The Semi-Coanda exhaust system the team employed throughout stages of their 2012 campaign has been re-purposed in the W04’s layout.  The tail or overhang has been re-orientated and raised to better utilise the effects of the Coanda system as the team struggled when they first introduced it last season.  The Coke Bottle area affords good room for airflow with what looks like a scalloping of the floor leading the starter motor area making for gains in the diffuser.  In the lower image also notice the curved vertical floor strake which should create an elongated vortex between the floor and tyre helping to seal the diffuser by manipulating the exhaust plumes reach.  We can also see that the team have adopted a Tyre Squirt reducing slot ahead of the rear wheel to further aid in this area, however in order for this to be legal there must be a break in the floor which from the images we have of this area I can’t see one yet.

From this aerial view it would appear that Mercedes like McLaren, Force India, Ferrari and Sauber have also followed Red Bull’s lead in the adoption of using the Lower Wishbone to shroud the halfshafts negating the Magnus effect and how it effects the exhaust plume.

We can also see Mercedes continue to use their small throated entrance Monkey Seat and perforated diffuser gurney.

From the outset the W04 looks like a solid re-interpretation of the W03 we will just have to wait to see if Mercedes continue to assess the DRD they tested last season and as we can see from the last image they do have a centralised mounting hanger on the underside of the mainplane.

Check back throughout the day, as more images are revealed I’ll undoubtedly pick up on more details.

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20 responses to “F1 Forensics: Mercedes W04 Technical Analysis

  1. While Gary Anderson’s analysis hasn’t yet been published on the BBC’s site, Andrew Benson is hinting that Anderson is disappointed in what Merc have revealed today. Other reports I’ve read seem to agree with Anderson.

    • It is up now on the BBC article, and Anderson is not impressed with the upgrades, especially compared to the mclaren’s

      • I can see why Gary is disappointed.. to me it just looks like they have tried to ‘get up to par’ with the other teams by copying their solutions onto the old Merc. Which is fair enough as when they tried to that half way through last year it wouldn’t take it! The other cars launched so far look great – I’m really excited to see where they are at speedwise come the tests and Melbourne. Perhaps Lotus and Merc are really counting on the DRD which they have pioneered longest coming off for them?

        • welcome Iestyn – spent a lot of time in Wales as a kid and loved it. You can champion thejudge13 choral society 🙂

          Seriously, not sure DRD will be a real biggie. There appear to be problems getting the ‘valves’ to open and shut at the right time when simply left to air pressure to operate – but we’ll see.

          • Cheers Judge, commented on one of the early posts a while back, and it’s been fascinating to see how the site has grown in popularity so quickly already :).

            True; if DRD does work though at some point and produce a straight line boost, it’ll add some zizz alright! A bit like the F-duct a few years back.. I can hope…

      • Having read Gary’s comments I’d agree that the rear end around the Coke Bottle may be over complicated but they are definitely trying something different too. The rear cooling section has been raised in order to funnel airflow into the central / starter hole section. Meanwhile I’ll ask the judge to load the pictures out of my blog as I’ve added a few additional images of things Merc are using to further enhance rear downforce.

        • Maybe I was a bit harsh – Looking at it again this does make sense and could be very interesting. Loving the technical analysis!

          • Somers is fantastic. I’ve been following him for some time.

            He pitches the technical stuff just right for me, others I’ve read assume too much knowledge – and I have to battle through their stuff to glean a little.

            Hopefully TJ13 will give him increased exposure

            You interaction is much appreciated.

          • I’ve been totally unaware of the F1 blogosphere, basically realise James Allen exists, that’s about all. Please keep developing, and soon as things are settled, get onto it the more. There’s no standard criteria for a successful blog, but some fairly epic hurdles to be considered a publication. You must allow that the trad print side of many a serious print standard still have issues with their web pages, and it is simply not all about money or jealousy. Here’s hoping, in my quieter moments, I can find some pivot points that make sense to TJ13. Just saying what I think (which you all know could be a book inside a week, and at 10K words / day effectively is inside a working fortnight) won’t cut it either. Still at ca. 30 – 40 WPM with one arm (and half a side) debilitated. Two finger typing.

            If physio doesn’t work quickly, I am totally getting Nuance pro dictation up – – heck, a custom F1 dictionary for transcription would be pretty cool. Might be a while, so could well do that project, and Nuance are super at accent and voice independence. Okay, they have a effective monopoly. But in 1999 I could read Byron and ViaVoice albeit slowly – radio speed delivery, classical accenttaion I would not normally employ, not running off…- the result was word perfect. On a insanely expensive workstation, all of 50 or a 100 times less fast than my boring boxes of today.

            Guys, I reckon anyone writing for a living at a desk needs a proper mechanical keyboard. My preference is Topre. Plus custom keycaps, they soon hit hundreds. ($400 US is about the mark, or may even be low) But what is that when you value your time? How many peopl ewrite long hand all day? Programmer rarely do. Eclipse plugins or Visual Studio (I prefer the latter, but most of what I do can be ported) aren’t there to auto expand and mark syntax prettily. If at a desk, also my choice is the “Freedom chair” (various sizes, various heights, for different activities) but I have Aerons as well, and the Aeron is more money for less ease of posture.

            If I do do a F1 vocab seriously, for Nuance, I shall release it into the wild. (Nuance may require a token payment for doing that, I’ll check.

            That would actually help the serious writers out there, as they can then think more.

            . . .

            Have a great time at the tests, TJ, and all who are going.

  2. “From the outset the W04 looks like a solid re-interpretation of the W03”

    If it’s a solid re-interpretation of the W03 at the end of the 2012 season then I suspect Ross Brawn won’t be with the team much longer.

        • Good idea – He’s flat out with car launches at the mo, and one or 2 tj13 readers can’t cope with the volume of posts hitting their RSS feeds – so we’ll get the launches out the way first I think.

          • I’m not one for GANTT charts, but have any of the TJ13 Massive used Adobe InCopy, or equivalent editorial workflow tools? Will remind you in a month or so, TJ. But with the frequency of output, and the variety of voice, you need to look at the ideas behind a real news room, and also how essential they are to getting advertising, which I think despite everything, you’ll need if you go all “hockey stick” on page views. Print can’t be hacked. There’s so many other things to worry over on the web. Hope I can cover your back early enough to have these ideas make sense, not stop the flow. Does not have to be the end of creative chaos. Take the good ideas, minimally implement.

          • Most of our projects in the motor industry were run from Gantt charts.
            An excellent way of seeing exactly where you are at and what has to be done by when and by whom. Of course if they are not updated then they become an ideal and not a statement of position.
            Of course many companies have their own flow/process charts to show/define their ideal procedures. However a Gantt chart is very much more useful.

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